Tag Archives: Science

Women in Science – Sara Seager

Since I have a daughter that is interested in science I wanted to share some of the interesting women in science that I have come across. I don’t mean for this to be a full biography of them, that is what Wikipedia is for, but rather a starting point for people to do their own research. So these will have a lot of links to articles and videos with some text to explain why those links are interesting.

Back in 2012 I wrote a guest post on The Momma Knows called “E is for Exoplanet”. In it I talk about the Kepler Space Observatory. Sara Seager was one of the people that work on Kepler. On finding that it lead me to other exoplanet projects that she is leading or involved with. A number of those I was already aware of. As a result I decided that my first of these posts should be on her.

In that 2012 article I stated that there were 832 exoplanets, now there are 1826 confirmed and 4229 that probably are but they haven’t enough data yet to confirm. Above is a pin that has a handy chart of the types of planets they have found. The big numbers include the ones they don’t have enough data to confirm. The little numbers in the lower right are confirmed planets.

Lets start with the Wikipedia article on her. She is the Head of Planetary Group in the Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT among other titles. It is interesting to read but the videos are better and more up to date.

Seager 2013 hi-res-download2 1

Wikipedia – Sara Seager

The first video is the newest that I could find. She talks about what we know so far about exoplanets and some future missions like TESS.

Wikipedia – TESS

This video discusses TESS and the cube satellite ExoplanetSat. She also talks about some of the weirder planets that they have found. She is the Principal Investigator on Exoplanetsat and a Co-Investigator on TESS.

The next video is a TED talk and covers some of the same material as the earlier videos but it was the first one I found and it compactly covers the major ideas.

Below are links to two articles that also talk about the future of exoplanet science. They also contain a quote that I really like:

“At the end of the day if you don’t stay in science you have gained a skill that most people don’t have.”

Universe Today – Life after Kepler – Upcoming Exoplanet Missions

Universe Today – Changing the Paradigm – Exoplanet Interview with Dr Sara Seager

The article also gave me an answer of a question I had about ExoplanetSat. I had wondered why it hadn’t launched yet. It turns out that they are waiting on funding but they are close to being able to launch.

The next video has to do with an award that she received. The cool part is that she has a ExoplanetSat sitting on her desk. She also talks a bit about how she became interested in Astronomy and how she would like to see more women in the sciences.

The final video is a long one but it goes much more in depth on the above topics. The questions that she covers are:

What could aliens see, looking at earth from afar?
When will we find another Earth?
Can we go there?
If we can not go there, why look?

Hopefully this will give people an idea of what is out there and ideas to research.

Biological Classifications Project

When we were on our California Vacation we went to the San Diego zoo. While we were there I saw teenagers on a field trip taking ‘selfies’ with various animals. Listening in they were on a scavenger hunt to find certain types of animals and certain endanger statuses. That got me thinking of how I could incorporate our trip into our schooling this year. One of our subjects was looking at the biological classifications. The Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species stuff. We had lots of photos so I knew I wanted to include those. (The pictures can be clicked on for full sized versions)

Biological Classification Wall
Biological Classification Wall

First we figured out the names of the animals in each of the photos. I also included our photos from Seaworld. I put post it notes on the backs of each photo. Once we had the names, or as close as we could remember. I know that some are not exact, for example I’m not sure if we have African or Asian elephants.

Orangutan and Label
Orangutan and Label

I then had Philip look up each animal and write the classifications on the post it note. This could have gone faster but he felt it necessary to read each Wikipedia article on each animal.

Order Primates
Order Primates

We then sorted the pictures, first by Phylum and then by class, order and family. We were only able to organize down to the order level due to the size of the wall I chose. We then created labels for each unique classification.

We then organized the labels and the pictures on the wall. My wife said it made it clearer for her as well. It is one thing to read about how we are all interconnected but another to see it up on a wall.

Order Carnivora
Order Carnivora

My daughter who is grade 4 then went and looked up human and made her own picture. She also figured out where it would go on our display.

Margaret's Card
Margaret’s Card


Margraret's Card
Margaret’s Card

Overall I would say it took between 10 and 15 hours to complete but that also counts the extra reading that he did. I am fine with the extra but it wasn’t necessary for the project.